Plans to build an animal control facility in the Bingen-White Salmon area, the subject of ongoing proposals, are apparently moving into a new phase.
Late last week, the mayors of Bingen and White Salmon said they have been discussing a plan that could put a facility in the immediate vicinity of the wastewater plant in Bingen.
"We looked around our city shop complex, and are trying to put together the size requirements," said Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "We'll put together a cost estimate based on using Bingen land. My opinion is, that is a suitable location. Of course, it depends on the wishes of the City Council."
White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen said there appeared to be strong momentum to get a facility in place.
"It's beyond an idea. We're trying to move forward on a dog impound building," said Holen. "It would be a joint project of the county and the two cities."
Holen pointed out the wastewater plant area is zoned "industrial," and it is not close to residential developments.
Over the past couple of weeks, Klickitat County Sheriff Chris Mace and Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Ned Kindler have been discussing specifics of what would be required to create an efficient animal shelter.
"They needed a place to start, so I drew up what I thought would be a good animal control facility that could be easily maintained," Mace said.
A 30-foot by 20-foot building, with perhaps 12 dog runs and space to store needed equipment and supplies such as dog food, is expected to be sufficient to do the job effectively.
Mace said he thought the location the mayors were looking at would be ideal.
"It's far enough away from residences, it's near the wastewater plant, and we would build it solidly enough that barking wouldn't be an issue," Mace explained.
With any luck, Mace said, he would be able to present a plan -- with a rough price tag -- to the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners within a month or two.
"We'll try to get all the cost estimates in place and get a report to them," Mace said. "It's something we've been working on, but it takes time to get things rolling."
In addition to the building itself, the concept calls for a part-time, on-call animal control officer who would be available to impound animals as needed.
"We'd like to have enough funding to have the person patrol around the county at times," Mace added.
Still to be determined is how the cities and the county might share the maintenance and operation cost of a shelter once it is built.
"That is yet to be decided," Holen said. "Hopefully, it would be paid for largely by the people who don't take care of their dogs, through fees and fines. Fines could be changed to reflect the costs of running the facility. Responsible dog owners shouldn't be required to pay the lion's share."
Holen pointed out that the Police Department budget has some money for animal control work. But both mayors know they can't complete the project on their own.
"I hope the county assists," Prigel said. "I hope they step up a bit. Neither city could afford it alone."